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Suit filed against Marion County traffic court

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A suit filed today claims the Marion County traffic court judge is violating residents' constitutional rights by imposing additional fines on those who unsuccessfully challenge their tickets and closing proceedings to the public.

Plaintiffs Toshinao Ishii, Matthew Stone, and Adam Lenkowsky filed their suit in Marion Superior Court No. 11 against Marion Superior Judge William E. Young in Court No. 13 and the city of Indianapolis. The suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief through an order of mandamus prohibiting Judge Young to impose additional fines against defendants who fail to win their cases before the traffic and parking violations courts.

The suit, a class action complaint, also asks for a return of the fines received by the court, and to keep the traffic court from closing its courtroom to the public. The plaintiffs claim the imposition of additional fines has a chilling effect on the fair and equitable administration of justice.

According to the suit, when Judge Young took the bench in traffic court this year, he instituted a policy that defendants that come before his court and are found guilty would be fined up to an additional $500 and could even be assessed up to $10,000 plus court costs. The traffic courtroom is also open only to defendants. No one else, including parents of minors who have received tickets, can be present during procedings.

Ishii appeared in traffic court to contest a ticket; he lost and was fined an addition $400. Stone was cited for improperly wearing a seatbelt. He wears it differently because of a pacemaker and chose not to challenge the ticket because of Judge Young's policy. Lenkowsky asked to enter the courtroom as a member of the public and was denied entrance.

The suit also includes the newly opened parking citation court in Indianapolis, in which defendants who don't pay their ticket prior to a scheduled hearing may be assessed up to $2,500 in fines, according to the city of Indianapolis.

The threat of these fines violates the Eighth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, sections 12, 16 and 23 of the Indiana Constitution, according to the suit.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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